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From our Expert Voices conversation on Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria.

If other post-disaster recovery efforts are any indication, then Puerto Rico will go through three phases of recovery:

  1. Basic needs: water, shelter, energy, and sanitation
  2. Engagement of resources for rebuilding: large amounts of money, time, and energy to restore services and resume job and school attendance
  3. Reparation of emotional and mental anguish: healthy and sustainable re-inhabitation of neighborhoods and homes with attention to both physical infrastructure and emotional trauma

At the same time, Puerto Rico also has many unique characteristics that can amplify current challenges. The concentration of administrative power in San Juan, for example, may hamper decision making for, or resource allocation to, the municipal level. Municipalities will be at the forefront of recovery efforts because of their ability to engage local communities and their mandate to use urban regional planning strategies, which can improve public health and safety through climate-resilient design.

A critical question that remains is whether Puerto Rico will rebuild with a recognition that these extreme events will increase in their frequency, duration, and intensity.

Why it matters: Rebuilding offers an opportunity to integrate new knowledge about extreme climate events into municipal planning and business operations.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

The separate and unequal paths in business

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When a bank turned down George Johnson for a business loan, he got creative. He returned and told the bank he needed $250 to take his wife on a vacation — and was approved. Then he invested the cash in his business, which became the first Black enterprise to trade on the American Stock Exchange.

Why it matters: The highways to success in the U.S. market economy — in entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and wealth creation — are often punctuated with roadblocks and winding detours for people of color.

GOP state legislatures move to assert control over election systems

Contractors in Phoenix in May 2021 recounting ballots as part of a 2020 general election audit requested by the Arizona State Senate. Photo: Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post

Republican-held state legislatures have passed bills that give lawmakers more power over the vote by stripping secretaries of state of their power, asserting control over election boards and creating easier methods to overturn election results, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: The bills, triggered by baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, threaten to politicize traditionally non-partisan election functions by giving Republicans more control over election systems.